NARA invites public to tag historic documents
- By Alice Lipowicz
- Aug 05, 2011
The National Archives and Records Administration wants to make its historic documents more searchable, so it is asking the public to participate in a crowdsourcing program and tag documents in its online database.
For example, volunteers could tag an electronic copy of a letter or handwritten petition to Congress by inserting searchable keywords, or tags, into the document, that correspond with words in the document. The tags could include names of individuals such as “George Washington,” location names such as “Maryland” or “Mount Vernon,” organizations such as “Congress,” dates, events, laws and many other keywords.
NARA puts historic documents online with the help of Wikipedia volunteers
National Archives reveals its social media hits and misses
In the program’s first month of operation, volunteers have added more
than 1,000 tags to historic records in the Online Public Access system,
U.S. Archivist David Ferriero announced Aug. 3 in a blog entry.
“Convinced that our users know a lot about the records we are
stewarding, this is an opportunity to contribute that knowledge,”
Ferriero wrote. “As you search the catalog, you are invited to tag any
archival description, person, or organization name records with the
keywords or labels that are meaningful to you."
NARA officials expect the crowdsourced tagging to enhance the quality of
the content and make it easier for people to search the documents, he
Users must register with NARA and agree to follow basic guidelines, such
as avoiding the use of any personal information in the tags. NARA staff
members review the tags before they are published.
NARA said the tags will be visible the day they are approved and indexed
overnight. The agency also plans to hold group tagging events to help
facilitate use of the features.
In a related effort, NARA’s Wikipedian in residence, Dominic
McDevitt-Parks, has been recruiting volunteers to digitize significant
historic documents this summer. After they are digitized, the electronic
versions of the documents will be proofread, tagged and indexed.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.